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Biologics, Volume 1, Issue 3 (December 2021) – 4 articles

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Review
Nucleic Acid Vaccines for COVID-19: A Paradigm Shift in the Vaccine Development Arena
by , , and
Biologics 2021, 1(3), 337-356; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biologics1030020 (registering DOI) - 23 Oct 2021
Abstract
Coronavirus disease, COVID-19, has touched every country globally except five countries (North Korea, Turkmenistan, Tonga, Tuvalu and Nauru). Vaccination is the most effective method to protect against infectious diseases. The objective is to ensure that everyone has access to a COVID-19 vaccine. The [...] Read more.
Coronavirus disease, COVID-19, has touched every country globally except five countries (North Korea, Turkmenistan, Tonga, Tuvalu and Nauru). Vaccination is the most effective method to protect against infectious diseases. The objective is to ensure that everyone has access to a COVID-19 vaccine. The conventional vaccine development platforms are complex and time-consuming to obtain desired approved vaccine candidates through rigorous regulatory pathways. These safeguards guarantee that the optimized vaccine product is safe and efficacious for various demographic populations prior to it being approved for general use. Nucleic acid vaccines employ genetic material from a pathogen, such as a virus or bacteria, to induce an immune response against it. Based on the vaccination, the genetic material might be DNA or RNA; as such, it offers instructions for producing a specific pathogen protein that the immune system will perceive as foreign and mount an immune response. Nucleic acid vaccines for multiple antigens might be made in the same facility, lowering costs even more. Most traditional vaccine regimens do not allow for this. Herein, we demonstrate the recent understanding and advances in nucleic acid vaccines (DNA and mRNA based) against COVID-19, specifically those in human clinical trials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anti-SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Drugs and Vaccines)
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Review
Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilm Formation and Its Control
Biologics 2021, 1(3), 312-336; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biologics1030019 - 15 Oct 2021
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Abstract
Microbes are hardly seen as planktonic species and are most commonly found as biofilm communities in cases of chronic infections. Biofilms are regarded as a biological condition, where a large group of microorganisms gets adhered to a biotic or abiotic surface. In this [...] Read more.
Microbes are hardly seen as planktonic species and are most commonly found as biofilm communities in cases of chronic infections. Biofilms are regarded as a biological condition, where a large group of microorganisms gets adhered to a biotic or abiotic surface. In this context, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a Gram-negative nosocomial pathogen is the main causative organism responsible for life-threatening and persistent infections in individuals affected with cystic fibrosis and other lung ailments. The bacteria can form a strong biofilm structure when it adheres to a surface suitable for the development of a biofilm matrix. These bacterial biofilms pose higher natural resistance to conventional antibiotic therapy due to their multiple tolerance mechanisms. This prevailing condition has led to an increasing rate of treatment failures associated with P. aeruginosa biofilm infections. A better understanding of the effect of a diverse group of antibiotics on established biofilms would be necessary to avoid inappropriate treatment strategies. Hence, the search for other alternative strategies as effective biofilm treatment options has become a growing area of research. The current review aims to give an overview of the mechanisms governing biofilm formation and the different strategies employed so far in the control of biofilm infections caused by P. aeruginosa. Moreover, this review can also help researchers to search for new antibiofilm agents to tackle the effect of biofilm infections that are currently imprudent to conventional antibiotics. Full article
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Review
Peptides in COVID-19 Clinical Trials—A Snapshot
Biologics 2021, 1(3), 300-311; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biologics1030018 - 14 Oct 2021
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Abstract
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a strong drive and desire to find effective treatments for and protection against the disease. On the webpage ClinicalTrials.gov, a total of 6505 clinical trials currently (September 2021) investigating various aspects of COVID-19 [...] Read more.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a strong drive and desire to find effective treatments for and protection against the disease. On the webpage ClinicalTrials.gov, a total of 6505 clinical trials currently (September 2021) investigating various aspects of COVID-19 are registered. Of these, 124 studies involving peptides were identified. These 124 were further evaluated, and 88 trials that used peptides only for routine diagnostics were excluded. The remaining 36 trials were classified into 5 different classes according to their function: immunomodulatory (5 trials), regain homeostasis (10 trials), diagnostics/biomarkers (8 trials), vaccination (9 trials), and antiviral activity (4 trials, all overlap with immunomodulatory activities). In the current review, these 36 trials are briefly described and tabularly summarised. According to the estimated finish date, 14 trials have not yet finished. All of the finished trials are yet to report their results. Seven trials were based in the USA, and Egypt, France, the UK, Turkey, and the Russian Federation conducted three trials each. This review aims to present a snapshot of the current situation of peptides in COVID-19 clinical trials and provides a template to follow up on trials of interest; it does not claim to be a complete overview. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antiviral Peptides - From Discovery to Translation)
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Review
Is the Gut Microbiome a Target for Adjuvant Treatment of COVID-19?
Biologics 2021, 1(3), 285-299; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biologics1030017 - 30 Sep 2021
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Abstract
High expression of the transmembrane protein angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), more than 100-times higher as in the lung, and transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) in the gastrointestinal tract leads to infection with SARS-CoV-2. According to meta-analysis data, 9.8–20% of COVID-19 patients [...] Read more.
High expression of the transmembrane protein angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), more than 100-times higher as in the lung, and transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) in the gastrointestinal tract leads to infection with SARS-CoV-2. According to meta-analysis data, 9.8–20% of COVID-19 patients experience gastrointestinal symptoms, where diarrhoea is the most frequent, and about 50% shed viruses with high titre through their faeces, where a first faecal transmission was reported. Furthermore, gut inflammation, intestinal damage, and weakening of the gut mucosal integrity that leads to increased permeability has been shown in different studies for COVID-19 patients. This can lead to increased inflammation and bacteraemia. Low mucosal integrity combined with low intestinal damage is a good predictor for disease progression and submission to the intensive care unit (ICU). Several pilot studies have shown that the gut microbiome of COVID-19 patients is changed, microbial richness and diversity were lower, and opportunistic pathogens that can cause bacteraemia were enriched compared to a healthy control group. In a large proportion of these patients, dysbiosis was not resolved at discharge from the hospital and one study showed dysbiosis is still present after 3 months post COVID-19. Consequently, there might be a link between dysbiosis of the gut microbiome in COVID-19 patients and chronic COVID-19 syndrome (CCS). Various clinical trials are investigating the benefit of probiotics for acute COVID-19 patients, the majority of which have not reported results yet. However, two clinical trials have shown that a certain combination of probiotics is beneficial and safe for acute COVID-19 patients. Mortality was 11% for the probiotic treatment group, and 22% for the control group. Furthermore, for the probiotic group, symptoms cleared faster, and an 8-fold decreased risk of developing a respiratory failure was calculated. In conclusion, evidence is arising that inflammation, increased permeability, and microbiome dysbiosis in the gut occur in COVID-19 patients and thus provide new targets for adjuvant treatments of acute and chronic COVID-19. More research in this area is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anti-SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Drugs and Vaccines)
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